South Africa’s Test cricketers will surely be glad to put this particular edition of the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy behind them.
England walked away more than worthy winners 3-1, but things seemed to go from worse to worse for the Proteas as the tourists under resurgent captain Joe Root appeared to have finally found a blueprint for winning in the southern hemisphere with the kookaburra ball.
The series victory also marked the full launch of the Chris Silverwood era. Of course it’s still only early days for the new head coach, but this England Test side already seem a world away from their batting troubles in the longer format under previous coach Trevor Bayliss.
While a litany of combinations suddenly appeared to come together for England, the opposite must be said of the Proteas who looked increasingly confused as the series went on. South African skipper Faf du Plessis must be considering his position after a number strange tactical decisions throughout; not to mention his handling of spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Meanwhile in the England dressing room, top order batsman Joe Denly may similarly be considering his fate after a disappointing run of scores, and could struggle to gain a place in the Test squad for the next assignment in Sri Lanka. The 33 year old’s rise to prominence in the latter stages of his career has proved a quite brilliant story, but the top order batsman could now find himself at the end of the road.
Positives for South Africa included young quick Anrich Nortje fully introducing himself to Test cricket (not to mention his impressive low order batting which displayed his competitive spirit). Quentin de Kock’s vibrant batting throughout was also a bright light, but Vernon Philander breaking down in Johannesburg with a grade two hamstring tear in his very last game will not be the way South African fans will want to remember ‘Big Vern’.
Where to next for South Africa? Well that one is certain. There’s a three match 50 over series starting on Tuesday against Eoin Morgan’s World Cup winners. Anything beyond that is harder to read. Based on the evidence of this series and their world cup performance last year, the next period could prove exceedingly tough for the Proteas.